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Demosthenes's avatar

Who are the "elites"?

Asked by Demosthenes (10283points) April 3rd, 2019

Both Democrats and Republicans speak of elites as a big, negative, “other”, but they may not be thinking of the same people when they say it.

For Democrats, “elite” seems to be synonymous with “wealthy”, but for Republicans, they may be the political establishment (elites as power-holders), academics (elites as intellectuals), Hollywood (elites as influencers), or geographically defined (“coastal elites”).

Dems and Repubs might not agree on much, but they both seem to agree that “elites are bad”, whatever that’s worth. Who are the “elites” to you?

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17 Answers

hmmmmmm's avatar

Conservatives and the right have traditionally used the word to smear liberal politicians as out-of-touch rich people without having to invoke class, which would be troubling for them. The “elites” they describe are usually member of the same class (both in terms of socioeconomic terms and ruling power) as the one using the term.

So, “liberal elites” is supposed to evoke images of latte-sipping rich intellectuals who have no understanding of “regular” Americans (read working class).

It’s not an honest descriptive term. It’s a political tool that is used to evoke peoples’ understanding of class without explicitly making an honest class analysis. It’s a way to say that the rich and powerful are running things – but those rich and powerful are the other guys – not us.

Demosthenes's avatar

^In that sense, the use of “liberal elites” is nothing more than a form of identity politics.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Elites are the powerful string pullers to which most of the politicians scrape and bow.

Inspired_2write's avatar

A very interesting article on definition of Elite and the various types.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elite

stanleybmanly's avatar

I agree the take on elites as a pejorative is different for Democrats & Repuicans, but i prefer to state this as a left/right issue. The left is more cognizant of those “at the top” wielding wealth & power as fulfilling the requirements for “elite”. But it’s the right that deserves the attention on the confines of “elite” For them the category (by necessity) has come to be about matters of intellect and cultural influence—journalists, academics, experts in general. The reasons of course are as clear as glass. Notions in large part key to many conservatives defy intellectual verification as well as common sense. Climate change, intelligent design…you know the list, and the arguments: “Trump is not an ignorant fool. It is the elitists in the liberal media who prefer to cast him in a negative light which leaves the gullible public vulnerable to the lie that he’s a know nothing dufus.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Oligarchs (The actual elite) play both sides of the political spectrum. It’s so obvious what is going on with politics and that the media moguls are behind most of it. They don’t even really need to collude with each other, they have overlapping interests: keep us stirred up, distracted and at each others throats while they get away with whatever they want.

LostInParadise's avatar

Trump bashes the elite all the time and I have no idea who he is talking about. It can’t be the wealthy, college educated or those with political power, because Trump fits into all those categories. What’s left? Those with advanced degrees?

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stanleybmanly's avatar

@LostInParadise How about people who can read and write?

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